Organised crime gangs are flying into Ireland in order to carry out weekend raids on stores selling smartphones, a retail body has said.
Retail Excellence, which represents more than 1,600 companies across the country, told TDs and Senators at a crime briefing in Leinster House criminals are targeting Dublin for weekend theft sprees to steal thousands of euro worth of iPhones, before leaving the country undetected.
Lorraine Higgins of Retail Excellence said anecdotal evidence from store owners as well as information obtained from loss prevention professionals highlighted how criminal gangs were targeting one or two stores at a time, grabbing lucrative merchandise and leaving the country in a highly organised fashion. Other issues highlighted include the use of children by adults to steal goods, and violent acts carried out on retailers.
Ms Higgins said: “Retail Excellence wants the impact of retail crime on owners and shop staff to be higher up the political agenda. Retail crime is costing millions every year and stiffer penalties need to be introduced to act as a deterrent particularly for anyone convicted of assaulting retailers or their staff. We need the state agencies to respond to incidents, investigate and deal with the myriad of issues facing our members.”
Chairman of the body’s loss prevention group, Michael Neary of Harvey Norman said many retailers have lost faith in the system.
“Penalties handed down to repeat offenders do not reflect the seriousness of their repeated offences. As a consequence, staff are fearful of confronting those who repetitively steal from their stores because they face an inordinate level of abuse and threats,” he said.
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